Marine Science Faculty Publications

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Acoustic Stimulation, Air, Animals, Auditory Threshold, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Turtles, Water

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Sea turtles spend much of their life in aquatic environments, but critical portions of their life cycle, such as nesting and hatching, occur in terrestrial environments, suggesting that it may be important for them to detect sounds in both air and water. In this study we compared underwater and aerial hearing sensitivities in five juvenile green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) by measuring auditory evoked potential responses to tone pip stimuli. Green sea turtles detected acoustic stimuli in both media, responding to underwater stimuli between 50 and 1600 Hz and aerial stimuli between 50 and 800 Hz, with maximum sensitivity between 200 and 400 Hz underwater and 300 and 400 Hz in air. When underwater and aerial hearing sensitivities were compared in terms of pressure, green sea turtle aerial sound pressure thresholds were lower than underwater thresholds, however they detected a wider range of frequencies underwater. When thresholds were compared in terms of sound intensity, green sea turtle sound intensity level thresholds were 2-39 dB lower underwater particularly at frequencies below 400 Hz. Acoustic stimuli may provide important environmental cues for sea turtles. Further research is needed to determine how sea turtles behaviorally and physiologically respond to sounds in their environment.

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PLoS ONE, v. 11, issue 10, art. e159711